Are you going to Ditan Temple Fair?
Strolling through a temple fair is quite the traditional thing to do during Spring Festival in China. But even though I am Chinese I went to a temple fair for the first time in my life on February 27 this year.
I got up early on that sunny morning and took a taxi to the Ditan Temple Fair. The taxi driver was a native Beijinger and very passionate about Beijing and its people. On the way to Ditan he told me all about Beijing from the Qing Dynasty down to today. It was the start of a happy day.
Crowds were flocking to the fair and as I got closer I saw four giant Chinese characters "Di Tan Temple Fair". Two red lanterns were hanging from the pillars and I followed the throng through the splendid gate into a wonderful, colorful world.
It was a sea of red lanterns with people swimming freely through it. Here you can take a photo in front of a picture of an ox, make a wish for a "Niu Niu Niu" life in 2009. Walking past an elaborate Spring Festival mural you get to the games: no matter how old or young you are, you will find a game to suit you. Try your luck at shooting, basketball, football...then take away your prize. It's all great fun.
After so much fun, you might feel a bit hungry, so taste some local Beijing snacks such as tripe or stinky bean curd. If you don't feel up to them you can always try the snacks from Tianjin, Shanxi, Hong Kong or Xinjiang. The vendors are yelling in Beijing language, Shanxi dialect, northeast dialect; some are singing, some are playing musical instruments. It's a unique temple fair symphony.
I take a bowl of boiled tripe in my right hand, a lamb kebab in my left, and have my eye on some fish balls. I've warmed up and have the energy to keep walking now. I finish off with a crab-apple candy stick to help me digest. Fabulous!
Suddenly I heard a graceful melody and, walking closer, see the Emperor leaving his palace. Soldiers in old-style uniforms with pikes and halberds and male and female servants escort the Emperor as he is carried from the palace dressed in his Dragon robes in a huge sedan chair carried by eight strong men in yellow uniforms. The ministers follow in the Emperor's wake. The scene transported me back hundreds of years and I could imagine how people then celebrated Spring Festival.
After the Emperor passed I heard the familiar sounds of Opera and walked toward a small stage in the style of a Beijing tea shop. Two actors wearing white and blue cotton robes were performing a traditional comic dialogue in pure Beijing dialect. Despite the cold weather the actors did a great job and the audience applauded wildly.
You can't go home empty handed from a temple fair so I did not forget to do some shopping but the things were so beautiful it was hard to make up my mind.
Time flies when you are enjoying yourself. Before I knew it, it was noon and the crowds were getting thicker. I had a great day at the Ditan Temple Fair, and will definitely be back next year.
Jessica, Du yan. 27 years old, was born in Da shiqiao a small city in northeast of China. Now she is working in Beijing for an international company, as a technic support.